Off the Press

May 24, 2011

By Bob Taylor

Here’s to those who help us remember

Sometimes we all need a little reminder. Thank goodness we have people like Dave Waggoner in the Issaquah community.

Bob Taylor Press sports editor

Waggoner, a quartermaster in the Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars post, once left a small U.S. flag at the office so I would always remember Memorial Day. The flag still flies above my desk.

Each year, Waggoner, members of the VFW post and local Boy Scouts plant flags and/or crosses on the graves of former veterans at Hillside Cemetery for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Waggoner makes sure these former vets are remembered.

Waggoner expressed a concern in an April Issaquah Press story that people are forgetting U.S. veterans. With Memorial Day coming up, none of us should forget veterans, especially those in our family.

I do a roll call every Memorial Day, setting aside some time to remember the veterans in my family.

My roll call begins with my great-grandfather Thomas Taylor, who was plowing a field in Illinois in 1861 when he learned from a neighbor that Fort Sumter had been fired on and that the Civil War had begun. He unhooked the plow from the horse, galloped to the nearest recruiting station and signed up with an Illinois volunteer infantry unit. Despite some serious illnesses, he survived the war.

Next is uncle Frank, my mother’s oldest brother. He was born in Finland, but became a U.S. citizen after coming to America. He was teaching in an elementary school in 1917 when news came that the U.S. had declared war on Germany. He joined the doughboys and served with distinction. However, he suffered serious damage to his lungs from a mustard gas attack. After spending time in a hospital, he was sent home but was never healthy again.

Uncle Frank’s brother John, also born in Finland, served the U.S. during World War I, but never went overseas. Because he was a professional logger, he was drafted into the Spruce Squadron, which supplied needed logs for building planes.

Uncle Andy, another of Frank’s brothers, was in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was in the Seabees, a construction group that built landing strips and bases for the Navy and Marines. He was at Guadalcanal, where Seabees were always targets of enemy snipers. He survived the war and later had a successful business in Montana.

My cousin Bud, Frank’s son who’s about 25 years older than me, always seemed like an uncle. He was in the U.S. Navy during World War II and survived the Battle of the Coral Sea.

My father, Layton Taylor, was in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II. He served in the Pacific. He learned so much about electronics that when I was a youngster, we never needed a television repairman because he could fix anything that had wires and tubes.

Uncle Mike, my wife’s uncle, who filled the void of my father, passed away when I was in high school. Uncle Mike was at Normandy during World War II. He was in several major battles and later helped liberate some concentration camps.

Finally, I often think of my cousin Steve. We were the same age. When we graduated from high school, I enrolled in college and Steve joined the U.S. Army. These were the Vietnam War days. Steve was sent to Southeast Asia. He survived snipers and snakes in the jungles of Thailand and Vietnam. After serving two tours, he was reassigned to West Germany.

When he got home, Steve planned to get married and use the G.I. Bill to go to college. He never got the chance. A week before he was going to be mustered out of the service, Steve was riding a motorcycle in West Germany when it collided with a car and he was killed.

All of these members of my family will be remembered this Memorial Day, mainly because I got a reminder from Dave Waggoner.

Thanks, Dave.

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